Joe Wicks has taken the internet by storm, offering online PE lessons via his YouTube channel every morning, keeping children across the United Kingdom active throughout the lockdown period.

One teacher at Rivers Academy West London, however, has decided to create her own virtual fitness class for her colleagues at school. 

The aptly nicknamed ‘Zoom-ba’ is held every Wednesday lunchtime, and leads staff members through a session of Zumba dances and key muscle workouts through the video conferencing application Zoom. 


Rebecca Francis, Coordinator of Wellbeing at Rivers Academy, utilised her experience working as both a PE teacher as well as coordinator of the Wellbeing faculty at the academy to make a difference for staff members.

Rebecca acknowledged that people have now had their exercise options limited as a result of government advice surrounding the coronavirus outbreak, so thought of a way to bring staff members together whilst also keeping their bodies’ active. 

Rebecca said: “We decided to host the session at lunchtime, because whilst breaking up the day slightly, the Zumba exercises release endorphins which reduce stress and the feeling of fatigue.

“Physical activity also enhances your overall cognitive function, meaning that colleagues should be more productive after the session, making the afternoons a lot easier to work with!

“Another thing that I think is positive and really important is that we are giving staff the hour to let their hair down and just have some fun together!Miss Francis added.

Reflecting on why she decided to run these sessions for colleagues, Rebecca said: “My housemate is a dance teacher so as a form of fitness, we decided that we would share with the staff of our respective schools.

Logistically, we completed a few trial sessions before taking it to our schools’ staff on Zoom, and now we’re thinking about running separate sessions for our families and friends to join too!” Rebecca added.

The benefits of the session are split into three key areas: social, mental and physical wellness. Zumba is an effective way of targeting these three areas of people’s wellbeing whilst maintaining an element of fun and keeping people entertained.

The rise in popularity of online training sessions, seemingly spearheaded by online sensation Joe Wicks, has meant that people can stay active from the comfort of their homes throughout the entirety of this pandemic. 

Rebecca said: “The obvious impact would be our physical health. Completing whole body movements increases our heart rate which improves heart health and cardiovascular endurance. In addition to this, we also complete large muscle group activities that requires participants to complete specific movements to target key areas like your arms, bums and legs.”

It isn’t just the physical health impact that makes these sessions worthwhile, though, as the sessions also allow colleagues to interact with each other in an informal setting, which provides a clear sense of belonging between staff.